Together with the Western Indian Ocean Marine Science Association (WIOMSA), the Nairobi Convention, the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS), and Tanzania's Marine Parks and Reserve Unit (MPRU), the African Union's Interafrican Bureau for Animal Resources (AU-IBAR) has taken a major step towards protecting the marine ecosystems of the Kenya-Tanzania Transboundary region. In order to build the groundwork for a Transboundary Marine Conservation Area (TBCA) and set the stage for cooperation between these neighbouring nations, a workshop was convened in Mombasa, Kenya from 28-29 September 2023.
Coming Together for Conservation
The workshop witnessed the convergence of diverse stakeholders, including government agencies from Kenya, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), community-based organizations (CBOs), and universities, all with a shared commitment to the preservation of transboundary marine ecosystems. This collaborative effort aims to ensure the sustainable management of aquatic biodiversity and marine resources in the Kenya-Tanzania region, ultimately contributing to environmental protection and economic sustainability.
Roadmap to Conservation
One of the primary outcomes of the workshop was the development of a comprehensive country roadmap for regional collaboration in the Kenya-Tanzania Transboundary Marine Conservation Area (TBCA). This roadmap outlines the steps needed to effectively conserve aquatic biodiversity and protect the marine environment.
Key Discussion Points
The workshop addressed several crucial aspects of the TBCA establishment, including:
1. Policy and Legislation: Developing guidelines to steer the TBCA establishment process, ensuring that the legal framework supports conservation efforts.
2. Ecological Analysis: Identifying ecological gaps and assessing socio-economic factors within the TBCA to inform effective conservation strategies.
3. Stakeholder Roles: Defining the roles of various organizations and institutions involved in the TBCA's creation and management.
4. Communication Strategy: Establishing a communication strategy to raise awareness and garner support for TBCA activities among stakeholders and the public.
5. Data Management: Setting up a comprehensive database to centralize information related to TBCA work, aiding in informed decision-making.
6. Bilateral Engagements: Initiating policy and political discussions between the Kenyan and Tanzanian governments to solidify support for the TBCA.
AU-IBAR's Vital Role
AU-IBAR played a pivotal role in convening this workshop and was recognized for its ability to bring together key stakeholders. The organization has committed to supporting political-level efforts in Kenya and Tanzania to realize the TBCA's objectives.
Dr. Mohamed Seisay (Aquatic ecosystems management and BE Expert), representing the Director of AU-IBAR, highlighted the organization's commitment to implementing recommendations from the MPA (Marine Protected Area) study in the Eastern and Southern African regions. Through collaboration with WIOMSA, AU-IBAR aims to support the TBCA process, emphasizing that Tanzania has already benefitted from a similar workshop, showcasing the region's progress. Dr. Seisay also expressed gratitude to Sweden for their support and acknowledged the Kenyan government for hosting the workshop.
Dr. Erustus Kanga, the Director General of the Kenya Wildlife Service, demonstrated the commitment of the Kenyan government to the TBCA process. He urged all partners and stakeholders present to support the initiative actively, emphasizing the urgency of the endeavor.
Dr. Arthur Tuda, the Executive Secretary of WIOMSA, underscored the critical roles played by the African Union and the Nairobi Convention in facilitating policy and legislative processes crucial to realizing the TBCA's vision.
An important event in the Western Indian Ocean's quest for a sustainable future was the National Meeting on Developing Country Roadmap towards Collaboration in the Kenya-Tanzania Transboundary Marine Conservation Area. The Kenya-Tanzania Transboundary region is home to significant marine habitats, and the efforts of AU-IBAR, WIOMSA, and other partners to protect them are inspiring. The goal of a successful TBCA to conserve aquatic biodiversity and protect the environment is within reach if we all work together and follow a well-defined plan. This initiative was implemented under: "The Conserving Aquatic Biodiversity in the Africa Blue Economy Project", funded by the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency"